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Geelong nurses closer to taking industrial action over basic conditions

Maternal and child health nurses in Geelong have successfully voted for the right to take protected industrial action against sub-par working conditions at City of Greater Geelong Council.

Of the maternal and child health nurses who voted in the ballot, declared today by the Australian Electoral Commission, 96 per cent voted in favour of having the option of taking industrial action.

A successful protected industrial action ballot of all union members is required under the Fair Work Act before they can legally take industrial action.

The long-running dispute is based on the City of Greater Geelong Council’s refusal to include the modern Nurses Local Government Award 2015’s minimum working conditions in the new enterprise bargaining agreement. These conditions, which provide for a fifth week of annual leave, are designed to recruit and retain maternal and child health nurses and prevent critical skill shortages.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has been in negotiations for a new enterprise agreement with City of Greater Geelong Council for over 17 months. A 2.3 per cent per year wage rise per annum over four years has been agreed, but talks have stalled over the maternal and child health nurses’ claim to include the relevant modern award’s basic safety net conditions in their enterprise agreement.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick ‘Maternal and child health nurses only ever take industrial action as a last resort and this ballot is a reflection on the City of Greater Geelong Council’s inability to recognise, value or reward their work in the community.

‘We’re seeking basic safety net conditions that a number of the surrounding local government areas already provide to their maternal child health nurses.

‘The extra week’s annual leave is designed to attract and keep a highly qualified and highly skilled maternal and child health nursing workforce which is critical to the care of new local mothers and babies in the days, weeks and early years after birth,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

Councils who provide benchmark employment conditions for maternal child health nurses include – Wyndham, Port Phillip, Nillumbik, Mitchell Shire, Mornington, Horsham, Brimbank, Alpine, West Wimmera, Glenelg and Greater Shepparton.

ANMF asks that members of the community and fellow council employees stand with the nurses in solidarity at this time to assist us in resolving this important issue in the negotiations. Supporters are encouraged to send Greater City of Geelong Council decision makers an email via